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I ended up choosing D for this answer- I see how B may also be correct (I kept it as a contender) but I felt that the wording in B was too strong. Can you help explain why B is the correct answer?
 James Finch
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Hi Bread,

Between (B) and (D), (D) addresses a set of faulty assumptions that supposedly undergird the use of cooperating witness testimony. However, the passage doesn't address any supposed assumptions, in fact it even notes that "courts have recognized the unreliable nature of evidence obtained through bartered testimony," but only addresses the unreliability of this witness testimony, not why it would be allowed. So ultimately (D) lacks textual support.

(B) on the other hand deals directly with the unreliability and with the potential for false convictions that is implied in the last sentence of the paragraph, a common place for a main point to be. So (B) has much more textual support, making it correct.

Hope this clears things up!
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I chose D because I thought the "set of assumptions that numerous studies cast doubt on" matched what is offered in P3 about how the safeguards are being shown to not always provide protection--and then the passage goes on to show how jury's don't properly consider witness motivations in a way that is fair. I realize this is a stretch to link together the psychological research that is in the following paragraphs to cast doubt on the assumption of effective safeguards, but I didn't see how any other answer choice related to the main point.

C seemed too narrow to me as I only see it addressed in the 4th and 5th answers. Can you please explain how this relates to the main point?

Thank you!
 Adam Tyson
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I see a couple problems here with answer D as a Main Point answer, 8385729, and the first of which is that it's really only a premise in support of a larger idea in this passage. Let's say D is true - is that ultimately all the author is trying to say? Or, is he saying "this is true, therefore there is a problem with relying on this kind of evidence? I think the latter makes more sense as the Main Idea here. The author is trying to tell us that there is a problem with having juries weigh this kind of evidence, problems that lead to incorrect decisions by those juries. Answer D doesn't capture that result, but just the cause of part of the problem.

Also, answer D is really just the point of the third paragraph, which is about showing that cross-examination may be insufficient as a safeguard against fabricated testimony.

Ultimately, answer B is the correct answer, because it is more all-encompassing of the whole passage. It's not just that cross-examination isn't sufficient, but that juries give undue weight to confessions, and may give undue weight to informant testimony for similar reasons, all of which may lead juries to convict a defendant improperly or for the wrong reasons.

Oh, and answer C is wrong because it focuses solely on confession testimony, when the bulk of the passage is actually about the testimony of coerced informants. Problems with confession testimony were brought up only to help us better understand a similar problem with the weight given to testimony from those informants.
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Why is E incorrect?
 Luke Haqq
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Hi racoonprinter!

Happy to address why answer choice (E) is incorrect.

First, this is a main point type of question. Second, answer (E) states, "There is substantial evidence to indicate that the testimony of accomplice witnesses and jailhouse informants is heavily influenced by incentives offered by the prosecution." By contrast, compare this with the correct answer, choice (B): "Numerous considerations suggest that the courts' reliance on the testimony of accomplice witnesses and jailhouse informants may result in convictions based on false testimony."

On the one hand, the claim from (E) is true based on the passage. There are plenty of specific parts of the passage that one could go to that would support that the statement from (E) is true. What is more, it doesn't necessarily appear too specific and rather is making a more general claim about the passage as a whole. This reasonably leaves the answer choice as as contender for a main point question.

On the other, however, answer choice (B) provides a bit more clarity on the author's intent or purpose in writing the passage. For an example of the author's viewpoint, note the language at lines 25-26: "However, these safeguards do not always provide protection." The author was describing some safeguards used to address a problem, but then additionally reveals a view that is critical of those safeguards. The passage goes on to explain why they are problematic. Since we can glean the author's viewpoint in this way, answer choice (E) seems too neutral in referring to testimony that "is heavily influenced by incentives"--this doesn't specify the how, or whether the influence is good or bad, but rather only generally refers to influence. Answer choice (B), however, does get to this greater specificity--the influence is particularly that it can lead to greater convictions based on false testimony, which the author finds problematic. Both these answers thus broadly cover the material in the passage, but answer (B) does better than (E) at also incorporating the author's viewpoint and purpose in writing the passage.
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Is 15 A incorrect because the stimulus never speaks of coercion per se?
 Robert Carroll
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That's a decisive problem with answer choice (A). It's also bad because the author isn't trying to show that any category of evidence is "never reliable", just that certain kinds of testimony aren't as reliable as might be thought.

Robert Carroll

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